Sep 13, 2014
Needing more high-tractive effort, six-axle locomotives for their former-PRR lines through PA, Conrail in 1984 went shopping. They put in an order with EMD for their current production SD-50. Conrail then turned to General Electric that same year for an order of C30-7's. But GE had recently stopped production on that unit. Not wanting to loose a contract, GE offered Conrail a 12-cylinder version of their current production C36-7. GE named this special variation the C30-7A, the 'A' denoting a 12-cylinder engine. Conrail took delivery of 50 C30-7A's (CR 6550-6599) between May and June 1984. When Conrail went back later that year for an additional 10 units, GE offered them the improved C32-8 instead. Thus Conrail became the only railroad in the world to own the C30-7A.
Internally, Conrail's C30-7A is very different from it's C30-7 cousin. Both models produce 3,000hp, but the C30-7A achieves this with only a 12-cylinder 12-7FDL prime mover, whereas the C30-7 relies on a larger 16-cylinder 16-7FDL. This resulted in a lower initial cost for the C30-7A as well as increased fuel economy.
Externally, Conrail's C30-7A's are nearly identical to similar Phase 3 C30-7's. These units also have anticlimbers and fixed-position rear drop steps. Plus all Conrail C30-7A's have extended-range dynamic brakes for operating below 20mph. A small door below the dynamic brake grids on the long hood signifies this feature.
But the C30-7 and C30-7A are different. For example, after pouring over my C30-7A and C30-7 photos, I discovered that the C30-7 has four tall engine doors in two double-door pairs on the conductor's side. The pattern looks similar on the engineer's side, but may be a bit different. The C30-7A has a slightly different arrangement of tall engine doors. Each side of the C30-7A hood has four doors. On the engineer's side, counting from the front to the rear, there is one double-door, one single-door, one double-door, and one single-door. On the conductor's side the pattern is reversed: one single, one double, one single, one double.
While I don't have a photo for every C30-7A Conrail owned, I did notice that all the door latches are the type found in the center of the door. This is also the same for the standard C30-7. However, I do have a photo of CR 6559, which has the old U-Boat latches on the top and bottom of the doors! I can only assume that the doors were damaged, then replaced with what was on hand. I don't know if the conductor side has these doors or not.
Conrail's C30-7A's ride on late model Adirondack FB-3 trucks, have their shocks mounted only on the center axles of each truck, and have high-mounted brake cylinders for protection during derailments. That ends the main spotting features of a Conrail C30-7A. Technical info follows.
All Conrail C30-7A's are equipped with Hump Control and Type 1 Power Knockout. According to Conrail Locomotive Data, "Type 1 power knockout is activated from automatic brake valve initiated emergency application or safety control initiated. Power knockout is not activated by trainline, emergency brake valve, or caboose valve initiated application."
All Conrail C30-7A's are also equipped with Harmon Select-A-Power, which is noted in a decal on the cab either above or below the 'C30-7A' locomotive class. Harmon Select-A-Power is an add-on fuel-saving electronic device. When a train doesn't need all its units to be online, this device allows an engineer to take trailing units off line one by one until only the lead unit is active. Units can also be reactivated as needed. When a unit is offline, it produces power of throttle position #1.
With a gear ratio of 20:83, Conrail rates the C30-7A's maximum single unit speed at 30mph, its maximum multi-unit light engine speed at 60mph, and its maximum train speed at 70mph.
Photos for personal use only. All rights reserved by original owner of image.
Reproduction or redistribution in any form without express written permission is prohibited.